What is Really Behind the Populist Surge?

By Richard Florida

March 21, 2017




What Is Populism?


Pipa Norris – Why Elections Fail:


Why Should We Study Populism? – Cas Mudde:



  1. The author suggests that these unexpected populist movements such as the shocking election of Donald Trump may be misinterpreted regarding their causes. What would this misinterpretation be?

Anatomy of a movement

  1. Which of the following statements are more likely to be said by populists according to the researchers?
  • “Refugees should be integrated into the nation by offering them healthcare and education.”
  • “Having pluralism in the parliament enhances the efficiency of democracy and the power of citizens.”
  • “A well-known and beloved public figure is more convincing than an economist.”
  • “The welfare of our nation precedes satisfying the needs of people who are from different nations.”
  1. Study the line graph. Determine whether the statements are true or false.
  • In the future, populist right parties will undoubtedly surpass populist left parties.
  • By the end of 1900s, both parties had gotten the same percent of votes.
  • Until 2000s populist right parties increased their votes constantly.
  • Since 2000s the increase in populist left parties has come to a halt.
  1. How does a populist leader make his propaganda credible in spite of deteriorating economic conditions and deepening inequality?
  2. Inglehart and Norris have found that politicians benefited from the shift to knowledge economy. / cosmopolitan people are angered by the destruction of traditions. / populist movements are rising because of cultural reaction against McWorld. / populist parties are supported by less advantaged and unskilled workers as Marx long ago stated.
  3. The reason for the rise in populist parties is the backlash against…………………and………………… rather than …………………….
  4. Study the Figure 6. Interpret the correlation between the economic issues and non-economic issues. In addition, determine the non-economic issues after reading up to American populism as cultural backlash.

American populism as cultural backlash

  1. Who is more likely to be populist?
  • A 59-years-old worker in a factory, living in New York
  • A 47-year-old housewife who lives in Philadelphia, where many families prefer to live.
  • A newcomer who wants to preserve his cultural and ethnic identity.
  • A 22-year-old Chinese citizen who studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA.
  • A 62-year-old small business owner.
  1. Liberals’ emphasis on ………………. and…………….. is inadequate because the populists’ main concerns are……………….


After you complete the task, write a summary of the text. Include the main ideas you get from the questions.

Writing Task:

Populism is reshaping our world:


Write a cause and effect essay about populism. What causes people to vote against their future economic interests? What kinds of effects does populism have on our future? Is populism effective to reduce the resentment of cultural left-behinds?


  1. People think that economic anxieties cause these populist movements.
  2. False, False, True, True
  3. False, True, False, True
  4. With the collapse of manufacturing and the rise of the knowledge economy.
  5. The third
  6. Urban cosmopolitans and immigrants, economic insecurity
  7. There seems to be a rough negative correlation between the two. Non-economic issues are anti-immigrant sentiment, authoritarianism, mistrust of global national governance, and right-wing ideological self-placement.
  8. The second, the third and the fifth.
  9. Reducing inequality and creating more middle-class jobs, cultural animosities and conflicts.

Yadyok Assistant,

Ş.Müge Uysal